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Middle East

UN chief 'to send observers to Syria'

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2012-04-12

UN Chief Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday that he was planning to send observers to Syria "as early as tomorrow". The team will be headed by UN peacekeeping general and middle east specialist Robert Mood.

AFP - United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday that plans were being made to send observers to Syria, starting with the dispatch of a UN peacekeeping general as early as Friday.

"We are working to send an observer team as promptly as possible," Ban told a news conference in Geneva, saying Thursday marked a "critical moment" in the UN's six-point plan for ending the violence in Syria.

Ban said he had spoken with UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan who said he would dispatch Norwegian general Robert Mood and his team "as early as tomorrow (Friday) as a way of preparing this observer mission."

"The department of peace-keeping operations has been making the relevant preparations," he added, saying that the mission would be deployed only after the UN Security Council adopted an official resolution.

Annan dispatched a team headed by Mood, a Middle East specialist, to Damascus last week to discuss technical aspects of any eventual UN mission.

Speaking about the ceasefire, which came into force at 6:00 am Damascus time (0300 GMT), the UN secretary general said: "The situation looks calmer. We are following it closely.

"The world is watching, however, with sceptical eyes," he added, since previous promises made by the Syrian regime "have not been kept."

"Once again I call on the government of Syria to fully implement... the six-point plan," said Ban.

"I also call on the Syrian opposition to sustain the cessation of violence in all its forms. This is a time for a fundamental change of course. It's time to stop the killing."

Ban said that if the Syrian situation was not to descend into "chaos", "the international community must speak and act as one."

Annan also said in a statement Thursday that the ceasefire appeared to be holding but added that the government must carry out all of the agreed peace plan, which includes a withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from cities.

Date created : 2012-04-12

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